A bird feather once sold at an auction in New Zealand for over $3,000, making it more valuable than gold.

A rare and exceedingly valuable feather from the extinct New Zealand Huia bird was sold for $28,000 in New Zealand, setting a record as the most expensive feather ever auctioned. According to a report by The Guardian, the sale took place on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

The price of the feather exceeded initial estimates, which ranged between $2,000 and $3,000, and the price at which the feather was sold exceeded the previous record for the most expensive types of feathers in the world, according to the American Business Insider website.

The previous record price for a Hoya feather was $8,400, set in 2010. However, this was surpassed at yesterday’s auction on Monday.

The feather, weighing approximately 9 grams, holds far greater value than gold. While a gram of gold is worth around $130, a gram of this feather is valued at an astonishing $5,200.

The Hoya bird was one of the extinct bird species in New Zealand. It is a songbird and is distinguished by its shiny black feathers and long, whitish tail feathers. The last confirmed appearance of this type of bird was in 1907, although it is believed that these birds were still alive until the 1920s, according to the New Zealand Geographic website .

The Hoya bird held a prestigious status among the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. Its name frequently appeared in their songs and conversations, and its feathers were exclusively worn by leaders and esteemed individuals. By the time Europeans arrived in New Zealand, Hoya birds were already rare. However, the European fascination with their feathers ultimately drove the species to extinction.

TThe Guardian newspaper reported that the international desire to own any remnants of the Hoya bird remains strong. In 2023, a pair of taxidermied Hoya birds sold at a British auction for $285,000, despite public outcry and calls for the New Zealand government to intervene and repatriate them.

Leah Morris, head of the decorative arts department at Webb Auctions, based in Auckland, where the feather was sold on Monday, expressed her belief in the excellent condition of the individual feather, and the efforts made to protect the feather with archival paper and protective glass.

“The hoya is a special bird, and a lot of people really relate to it in some way,” she was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

The specimen was one of the finest Hoya feathers on the market.

“It doesn’t have a lot of clumping in its feathers… and you’ll also notice that it retains a lot of its colours… in addition to its rich, iridescent brown color, and there’s no sign of insect damage,” Morris said.

The feather has been registered as a genuine treasure with the New Zealand Ministry of Culture and Heritage, meaning the feather cannot be allowed to leave the country without permission.

There are few details about the feather’s provenance and Morris was unable to disclose information about the seller or buyer due to confidentiality agreements. But she said they were registered treasure collectors based in New Zealand. There were no international bids.

About 30 people attended the auction, but all bids were submitted by phone or online. Morris said people were watching the price of the shuttlecock rise “with bated breath.”


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